Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Waking, Dreaming, Being, chapter four

Continuing from this post:

He begins with differentiating the dream ego from the dream self. The former is embedded in the dream and the latter is aware that it is dreaming. Our imaginations take over in dreaming, the same imaginations we use during waking when we imagine things past or anticipate things future. When dreaming is lucid we have some degree of conscious control over the course of the dream. To see how it though is different from waking consciousness he proceeds through the stages of sleep.

The hypnagogic state is the transition between waking and sleep. This state can also occur while awake or in meditation. This state if accompanied by seemingly random images and sensory stimuli, often from past experiences and sometimes from pure imaginary sources. Synesthesia is common. I know from experience this is the first phase of my sitting meditation, wild and random mind meanderings. And in watching myself go to sleep I know this is the sign I've entered this state on the verge of dreaming sleep. Further into this state the waking ego boundary loosens and we are immersed in the imagery. To manipulate this state as in meditation requires a delicate balance between being receptive enough to allow the image intensity and vividness, yet focused enough to consciously reflect on them. Otherwise we awaken or fall asleep. When I want to sleep I welcome the latter. When I meditate, I maintain the balance so that I can enter a deeper, slower and more content-free state. Thompson gives a few methods for consciously manipulating this state.

Relating the stages of sleep to brain waves, in stage one non-REM sleep the brain waves slow to alpha, then mixed with theta. This is the hypnagogic state. Stage 2 sleep spindles and K-complexes arise, rapid higher hertz bursts preceded by brief high-voltage waves. Stage 3 is a mixture of spindles and high-amplitude delta waves. Stage 4 settles into more than 50% delta waves. This process takes about a half hour when we ascend back up to stage 2, but instead of going on to stage 1 we enter REM sleep with wave readings akin to waking. More advanced technology, along with more advanced awareness practitioners, has further refined this broad schema.

To be continued.

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